Every once in a while, I get tricked into thinking that we’re actually settled here. It’s been sixteen months and change. Our boxes are unpacked. We no longer get mail with the yellow forwarding sticker attached to it. We run into people we know at the grocery store. But then something will happen to remind me that we’re still very much newcomers here. People don’t know our stories yet, and that’s the true test of being at home somewhere, isn’t it? Garrison Keillor puts a lot of stock in stories, like in this graduation speech advice, speaking to young people from a parent’s perspective:
And when you have friends, then you have someone to tell your story to, and that is how you finally and absolutely get free of us. This is the ultimate power you have over us. It’s your account that’s going to last longer.
It’s easy to have an opinion, it’s hard to tell a story: to be able to look at things and describe them accurately; to describe action, chronologically, in a way that conveys the reality of experience to another person. You were there during your childhood. You saw us and the clumsy things we did and the terrible dumb things we said— you saw what happened —- and now it’s your story to tell and we can’t tell you what to say. But if you can tell that story truthfully and with humor and with a little forgiveness, then you’re on your own.
Just in the past week, I was reminded that a lot of people here don’t know the story of Rowan’s Awful Sickness of 2010. It’s not a story I enjoy telling, but our family and friends in Minnesota lived through it with us, so it became part of our narrative, and it probably explains a lot about me. Some folks here hadn’t heard about The Valentine’s Day Burn of 2013. And our friends in Williamsburg knew us as we met and married, and so they all knew the story of how that all unfolded. We’re making new stories in Texas, of course. But in case you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the story of how Neil and I met. Pull up a chair, because it’s a good one.
Picture it: Williamsburg, Virginia, 2002.
I was a fresh new law graduate. Neil was the associate rector at Bruton Parish, the Episcopal Church in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. On my graduation weekend, my mom and sister, along with my then-two-year-old nieces, came to Williamsburg to see me walk across the graduation stage. It was also Mothers’ Day Weekend, and it was also hot as hell.
My mom insisted that we go see Bruton Parish, so that my sister could see it. “Because she’s a PRIEST’S WIFE. She should see it!”
I *think* I mumbled something snarky about being glad that *I* wasn’t a priest’s wife, because it seemed like kind of a drag.
Now, I had been attending Bruton Parish for the three years I attended law school. I mostly went to the evening services, but I really liked the rector there, and he kept tabs on me, knowing that I was a clergy kid, and remembering that I had arrived in Williamsburg the same week that he had. It was a little like a home base for me, but not enough to have met all of the clergy on staff. And so, knowing that it would make my mom happy on Mothers’ Day Weekend, I shaped up enough to suggest that we go tour the church on Saturday, instead of attending a service on Sunday. I was worried about taking two two-year-olds to a church service, only to pile them into a hot stadium for a graduation that afternoon, and then turning around to pile them into the car that evening to drive home to Ohio. We needed to spread out the agony a bit.
And so, we walked into Bruton Parish on that Saturday afternoon, my law school church home-away-from-home. My mom walked the little girls up to see the pipe organ, and my sister and I stayed back to talk with one of the volunteer guides, mostly retired women who loved the church and its history. In an impressively short amount of time, the guide on duty ascertained that I was a) single, b) living in Williamsburg, and c) willing to listen to her talk about The Bachelor Priest. (That would be Neil.) “He has a HOUSE and a CAR and a DOG.” Here was a living, breathing personals ad, extolling Neil’s every virtue and asset. My sister and I giggled to ourselves, and she whispered as we left, “Please keep that lady away from Mom, or you’ll be married off before we leave tomorrow.”
Not even one month later, I was frantically emailing my sister late at night, “Don’t tell Mom, but…”*
I met the Bachelor Priest. And I liked him. A lot.
We met at a church picnic, with our friends Molly and Tim. Molly was my very best friend in law school. Some people thought we were sisters. When people didn’t know our names, they just called us “The Walkers,” because we walked together for exercise, while solving the world’s problems. Tim was her fiancé, and Neil had gotten to know them as he prepared to perform their wedding ceremony later that summer. Even though Neil worked full-time at Bruton Parish, I had never run into him in my (ahem) somewhat sporadic attendance at the evening services, where he wasn’t usually presiding.
We were introduced on the doorstep of the old rectory, which was a building used for parties and events. About a year later, Neil would break his arm on that same spot, and then a few months after that, we had our wedding photos taken there. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
We met, and started talking. Everybody else kind of faded into the background scenery … and I still feel like we might have been a little bit rude if we were ignoring everyone else. Sorry, everybody else. They said we were just kind of speaking our own language that day. We were. It was the day after Neil’s birthday, and so the teenagers had gotten him a cake and sang to him. At some point, his boss, that friendly rector I mentioned earlier, showed up and saw that we had met, and silently cursed himself for not getting there sooner, as he had been trying to introduce us for months leading up to that. He got over it and preached at our wedding.
On our way home from that party, Molly and Tim mentioned how much they enjoyed spending SO MUCH time with Neil. “What do you mean?” I asked. I figured he liked spending time with them, which is why he followed us all over the party. “Carrie. He likes you. He never paid that much attention to us before!” Huh.
That week, we went on a few walks in Colonial Williamsburg with his little dog, Georgia. We went to a karaoke bar with Molly and Tim – I know, I know. “Three lawyers and a priest walk into a karaoke bar….” Ba dum dum.
And eventually, I invited him to my apartment, where I made him this pie. He ate around the crust (the nerve!), but now that I see the reviews, that’s kind of hilarious because I see that people either love or hate the crust. I don’t even remember if I used this crust recipe, which is the danger of switching up recipes and ingredients as often as I do. Anyway, I seem to have forgiven him for eating around it, and he doesn’t seem to hold a tough crust against me, because here we are. Semi-settled.
*Spoiler alert: We did tell my mom, eventually. That’s another story. She approves, and she probably would have eaten around the pie crust, too.
This pie has an exceptionally flaky crust. It’s wonderful — of course — with vanilla ice cream.
- Makes 8 servings
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 tablespoons (about) ice water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 cups fresh raspberries
- 3 cups fresh blackberries
- Additional sugar (optional)
- For crust:
- Combine first 5 ingredients in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 5 tablespoons water and vinegar. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form, adding more water if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Shape each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
- For filling:
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in large bowl to blend. Add berries and toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round; transfer to prepared pie dish. Spoon filling into dough-lined dish. Roll out second dough disk to 13-inch round. Drape dough over filling, and trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Press edges together to seal; fold overhang under and crimp decoratively. Cut several small slashes in top crust to vent. Sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.
- Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes; cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.